Shores of eastern Hokkaido rose by perhaps 1 m a few centuries ago. The uplifted area extended at least 50 km along the southern Kuril Trench. It included the estuaries Akkeshi-ko and Hichirippu, on the Pacific coast, and Fu??ren-ko and Onneto??, which open to the Okhotsk Sea. At each estuary, intertidal and subtidal flats rose with respect to tide level; wetland plants colonized the emerging land; and peaty wetland deposits thereby covered mud and sand of the former flats. Previous work at Akkeshi-ko and Onneto?? showed that such emergence occurred at least three times in the past 3000 years. Volcanic-ash layers date the youngest emergence to the seventeenth century AD. New evidence from Akkeshi-ko, Hichirippu and Fu??ren-ko clarifies the age and amount of this youngest emergence. Much of it probably dates from the century's middle decades. Some of the newly emerged land remained above high tides into the middle of the eighteenth century or later. The emergence in the last half of the seventeenth century probably exceeded 0.5 m (inferred from stratigraphy and diatom palaeoecology) without far exceeding 1 m (estimated by comparing seventeenth- and eighteenth-century descriptions of Akkeshi-ko). The stratigraphy and palaeoecology of the emergence are better explained by tectonic uplift than by bay-mouth blockage, tidal-flat accretion or sea-level fall. Eastern Hokkaido needs occasional uplift, moreover, to help reconcile its raised marine terraces with its chronic twentieth-century subsidence. Because it took place above forearc mantle, eastern Hokkaido's seventeenth-century uplift probably lacks analogy with coseismic uplift that occurs above typical plate-boundary ruptures at subduction zones.
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Seventeenth-century uplift in eastern Hokkaido, Japan